Naturists as Outliers and Deviants in a Good Sense

The price of being different, being true to yourself . . .

Naturism is a deviant practice in reference to the modern world in which I and many other naturists find ourselves. When I say deviant, I am not declaring that naturism is a state of immorality or evilness. Rather, I am strictly talking about the practice of naturism within the context of the modern western world, especially that of Northern America. The larger society is phobic about keeping clothing on regardless of the weather and activity conditions. Common sense is not a consideration. I like how Thomas Moore looks at the term deviancy as “veering off the straight line.”

“Humans often have a preference for straight lines. We think of evolution and human development as following an uncrooked path toward perfection. We expect our neighbors to walk the straight and narrow”.

Religion somehow, likely through the process of falling into and growing power in a world that was ripe for exploitation, began to believe in its own messages, which were created to increase and solidify its power, messages which basically said to give up personal autonomy in favour of the collective ruled by the Church. In accepting the authority of the Church as the true and only mediator between the Divine and self, people took comfort in having someone else become responsible. Tolerance of the outliers, those who didn’t fit too well into the role of faithful, was lost and in its place, grew a fear that the collective would suffer for the actions, the straying away from the straight and narrow. The Church reinforced this collective fear, blaming all the misfortunes of life and nature on the presence of these outliers.

Today the church has been supplanted in power by the economy where the dollars are doled out to the faithful, those who follow the new straight and narrow, one that strategically keeps the church as ally. Fear of being denied heaven has been replaced with fear of losing all the riches promised and given for following the straight and narrow. Heaven and earth are now both at risk. No wonder there is no tolerance for those unable or unwilling to follow a straight line through life, the outliers, those who deviate.

Some of the outliers find themselves circling through life like the seasons. A different reality, a different heaven catches their attention, a reality and heaven that isn’t based on fear. They know, intuitively that they need to honour the soul of the earth, the soul of humanity, and one’s personal soul. Rather than retreat from confrontation with the dark moments, the tragedies, the storms and winter; we are invited, perhaps even required to get caught up in the seasons of life rather than spend all of our energy trying to go in a straight line to some dubious final destination.

2 thoughts on “Naturists as Outliers and Deviants in a Good Sense

  1. Thanks, Robert, for this very intriguing and stimulating blog entry. I think/feel you are trying to draw some very sophisticated and very important connections, and I want to respond by suggesting some of the ways in which I see the dots connecting.

    First, I appreciate your use of Thomas More and his observations on “deviance”: I think there is indeed a “human preference” for straightness, which is why parents prefer that there sons and daughters be “Str8”, for instance, and therefore predictable; and why they have allowed religious life to be “prescriptive” and, (among other things) “hetero-normative”, rather than “transformative” (that language comes from, among others, the Franciscan writer, Richard Rohr). But I don’t think you intend that the blog be read simply (and simplistically) through a lens of homo-vs.-hetero-sexuality.

    Your blog becomes particularly interesting and potent when you suggest that “the church has been supplanted in power by the economy where the dollars are doled out to the faithful”. I think your observation helps to understand what I see as the collusion between conservative Christians (in particular) and conservative politics: the real “deviance” in such a world is “to live simply so that others may simply live” (attributed to Gandhi). And this is more than a North American problem: the middle east and Africa and Asia resonate with this collusion of religious conservatism and economic conservative, in which religion is held onto as a force for constancy of economic consumption, rather than transformation. I think you and I both read Jung as a psychological force for transformation. And we see our practice of going naked as an aspect of that individuation and thus of personal and global transformation.

    While there may be a “human preference” for straightness, the fact is that this is not a value that seems shared by nature itself. When we are allowed to wear nothing, we see readily that the human body enjoys all kinds of variations that can’t be kept within a straight seam. Granted, not every growth in nature is a sign of health. And yet, the natural world is full of curlicues, not straight lines; vines produce quite rotund melons.

    And thanks for another, as so often, stimulating read.

    • Allen, I appreciate the thought that went into your comment. You are right about the collusion which is between the holders of power in both religions and the economy. I hope to add more to the discussion in the future.

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